Aristide is coming home—


—or so I’m told—

 And Sara and I are glad to be back on Planet Port-au-Prince, where a routine of strange and absurd leaves predictability-addicted ex-pats like us whip-lashed and dizzied.

Remember the epigraph that inspired “reinventing the event horizon”——

Haiti is not simply one more of those tropical dictatorships where to rule is to steal, and headless bodies are found by the road.  Haiti contorts time:  It convolutes reason if you are lucky–and obliterates it if you are not.  Haiti is to this hemisphere what black holes are to outer space.  Venture there and you cross an event horizon. (T. D. Allman, After Baby Doc, 1989)

From a much-too-short weekend in Miami, Sara and I have crossed that event horizon, come home to Haiti, where the streets are rocking with protesters— 

Literally—

Stone-throwing, tire-burning Haitians took to the streets on Monday, calling for the removal of unpopular President Preval, whose term ended yesterday, or should have, had he not decided to extend it by three months.

So it seems—————Preval is staying, Baby-Doc has settled in, and Aristide is on his way.

As journalist Emily Troutman tweeted yesterday, the only thing that would be weirder is if  “Toussaint Louverture and Jean-Jacques Dessalines came back too.”  (Both were Haitian revolutionary heroes who fought for freedom against the French more than 200 years ago.)

In the unfortunate (but sanity-maintaining) event that you are new to Planet Port-au-Prince here’s a recap of recent events:

–On January 12, 2011 an earthquake leveled Haiti’s capital, killing nearly a quarter of million, and leaving one and a half million homeless and still living in tents a year later.

–In October Hurricane Tomas hit Haiti, further complicating relief efforts.

–Also in October, a cholera epidemic took hold, and by now, 3 months later, has needlessly killed more than 4 thousand.

–On November 28, 2011 Haiti held a fraudulent presidential election, during which ballot boxes arrived at poling places stuffed with votes for the ruling political party’s candidate, Jude Celestine.

–After election results were announced on December 8, 2010 (identifying Mirlande Manigat and Jude Celestine as the top two vote-getters who would run-off in a final round on January 16, 2011  and excluding popular, musician candidate Michel “Sweet Micky” Martelly from the second round), protesters took to the streets, rioting for an annulment of the election and leaving Port-au-Prince in a virtual lock-down that even closed the international airport for four days.

–In January 2011 the OAS (Organization of American States) reviewed election results and determined that they were indeed fraudulent and that Jude Celestine should be eliminated from a second round run-off.

–On January 16, 2011, the scheduled day of the original run-off, the delayed event was nearly forgotten when the former Haitian dictator (exiled in France since 1986) Jean-Claude “Baby Doc” Duvalier arrived unexpectedly in Port-au-Prince.

–Two days later Baby Doc was arrested and released on charges of corruption.

–Also in January, when members of President Preval’s Unity Party refused to follow the recommendation of the OAS that their candidate Jude Celestine be disqualified, the US State Department revoked the visas of 12 top officials in an effort to force the issue.

–On February 3, 2011 the Haitian Provisional Electoral Council, following the recommendation of the OAS, announced the revised results of November’s election, determining by a vote  of 5 to 3, that the two candidates to run-off in a March 20th final round would be Mirlande Manigat and Michel Martelly.

–Though this announcement too was expected to result in rioting, the exclusion of unpopular Celestine left Port-au-Prince relatively quiet and calm.

–(In the midst of this, Sara and I left Port-au-Prince on Friday, February 4th for a long weekend on the beach in South Florida.) 

hundreds of jelly fish on South Beach

 –Monday, February 7th, the Haitian government issued a sting of its own to Duvalier supports, when  it announced it had printed a diplomatic passport for the still-wildly-popular and first-democratically-elected president Jean-Bertrand Aristide, who has lived in exile in South Africa since 2004.  (So he can return home, Aristide has been requesting a passport for more than a month.)

–(As Haitians await the imminent return of Aristide, Sara and I snuck back into Haiti on a nearly empty American Airlines flight (because few folks are stupid enough to return to Port-au-Prince during this time of political unrest with arch rivals Duvalier and Aristide waiting in the wings.)

So readers of my blog should be assured—I’m back on the job.

This week I’ll be formally accepting “awards” I’ve received during my holiday—the “Memetastic Award” (from Clouded Marbles) and “The Stylish Blogger Award” (from Wendy over at Herding Cats in Hammond River).  And I’ll pass along the “prizes” to other deserving bloggers in the next couple of days.

So I’m back at my desk—

Blogging from my home-sweet Haitian home on Planet Port-au-Prince.

Come play with me.  You too can have time-contorted and reason-obliterated!

Come wait for Aristide with me———————-

(I look forward to catching up with all of your blogs, as well.)

26 thoughts on “Aristide is coming home—

  1. Holy Smokes, Kathy. Look away for a moment, and Haiti is up to something altogether new and surprising.
    Glad to hear that you and Sara returned uneventfully, and I will be lifting you both up to stay safe…

    Haiti.
    The name itself conjures such…magic and hope and darkness and despair and joy and love…
    what a strange, interesting, lovely place you find yourself in…

    have you heard the musical “Once on This Island”? If you haven’t, perhaps I can send you a copy…

    blessings
    jane

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    • Jane–your comments are every bit as poetic as your posts–I love them!!!!!!!!!!!!!! It’s so interesting what you say about the name “Haiti”–so strangley true!

      But, no, I have never heard of the musical. I would love to check it out—– Is there a link you can send?

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    • It was bizarre. You know you’re going to the wrong place when the plane that takes you there is nearly empty. I’m glad though that we got in. I was afraid they would close the airport before we landed—-but today things are better. However, I don’t know what will happen when Aristide arrives on the scene.

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  2. I appreciate the re-cap, particularly with the pro-democracy revolution in Cairo since January 25th – I ‘fess up to losing track of most recent events in Haiti.

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  3. LOL Planet Port-au-Prince? It does seem a little removed from the rest of the world doesn’t it?! Had to also laugh about your comment re: the almost empty flight back to Haiti!

    Glad to have you safely back at your desk. Hope you had a wonderful weekend in Miami.

    Don’t forget to read Willie’s post re: The questions he received about his hike. It’s a good one! He answered your questions too. The link is:
    http://wp.me/pYuZP-wn

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    • I certainly had never seen a plane that empty. Passengers were laughing at the absurdity of it, were looking at one another saying, “What’s wrong with us? Are we stupid? Foolish?” It was stunningly surreal–bizarre!

      But things seem quiet here today–so that’s good.

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  4. Kathy, I’m glad you had a great trip, and hope things will continue to be peaceful in Haiti despite Aristide’s presence.
    Do you feel like you are living a history book? Interesting times.

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    • How funny, Deanna. It does kind of feel like that–but I suppose that would be much more the case were we in Egypt.

      Ultimately, I think Aristide is probably good for Haiti (at least the best of many not-so-great ones), but the timing is the issue. We’ll see what happens!

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  5. Thanks for posting the time line, Kathy. I remember hearing about each of these events in the news, but your line-up paints a striking picture of just how much Haiti has been through in recent years. What a struggling but resilient people!

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